Keeping Busy Means Keeping Happy

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A new study in the US has found why people confess to being so incredibly busy in today’s society. It is because it makes them happier. A few month ago Swedish research found evidence that staying active and not sitting was good for your health and the newest study in the US shows it not only keeps you healthier it makes you happier.

"The general phenomenon I’m interested in is why people are so busy doing what they are doing in modern society,” says Christopher K. Hsee, of the University of Chicago. “People are running around, working hard, way beyond the basic level.”

Sure, there are reasons, like making a living, earning money, accruing fame, helping others, and so on. But, Hsee says, “I think there’s something deeper: We have excessive energy and we want to avoid idleness.” Hsee continues to say, “I think there’s something deeper: We have excessive energy and we want to avoid idleness.”

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Researchers had volunteers do a series of surveys. Once they completed the survey, volunteers had to wait 15 minutes before given the next survey. Each person had the option to drop off the completed survey at a nearby location and then need to wait or they could drop it off at a location farther away, where walking back and forth would keep them busy for the 15 minutes.

What researchers found was those who chose to stay busy by going to the faraway location were found to be happier than those who chose to be idle.

Hsee believes that people like being busy, and they like being able to justify being busy to benefit society. “If we can devise a mechanism for idle people to engage in activity that is at least not harmful, I think it is better than destructive busyness,” he says.

Even Hsee confesses that he gives research assistants useless tasks when he doesn’t have anything for them to do, so they are not sitting around the office getting bored and depressed.

“I know this is not particularly ethical, but he is happy,” says Hsee.

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